A MelanieM Review: Born of Air (Dragon Soul #4) by Sean Michael

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Meet the Beteferoce brothers: five dragon shifters, each with a strong elemental power. And each with a fierce desire to find his soul mate…

He said he was flying on a silver dragon. He called me “Markus-meine.” Who would know all that? Who? And how?

SWAT cop and dragon shifter Mark Beteferoce had—and lost—a soul mate. He’s finally at the point where he can get through the days without thinking about what used to be…until he tastes Quincy O’Brien’s doughnuts and takes him home to play.

Quincy O’Brien is a gifted baker, but at night he dreams of soaring through the sky on dragonback and being topped by the perfect Dom. Mark satisfies the kinky urges Quincy has only explored in his subconscious, pushing his limits and caring for him afterward.

From the start, their connection was more than sexual. It’s known; it’s familiar somehow. And it’s slowly driving Mark insane. What shouldn’t be possible most certainly is, and the bond between himself and Quincy runs deeper than either of them could ever have realized.

The fourth in the Dragon Soul series, Born of Air is Mark’s story, the Betereroce brother I’ve been waiting for.  Mark lost his soul mate long ago when he was murdered and since then, he’s seen little of his brothers or their new soul mates because of the memories and pain it brings up.  Mark believes there is only one soul mate and he’s lost his  forever.  Until he meets a baker who dreams of flying and a silver dragon.

Born of Air departs from the other three stories because Mark has already found and lost his mate.  In the three previous books, all three brothers needed to find their mates and had help courtesy of a tattoo and  an elf.  That  didn’t happen here. The connection that Mark and Quincy make is a familiar one and  one that Mark immediately rejects as impossible.

That impossibility will bring all the other brothers and their mates into this story to help the bonding and the relationship survive, a element I just love.

Another hallmark of this series?  The incendiary sex scenes between Quincy and Mark.  Hot, hot, hot.  Here and in every story.  These brothers have a love of kink and bdsm.  Each story should  come with its own fan or two.

I wish there had been more back history to  Mark’s previous relationship and it’s ending but perhaps that’s coming in the books yet to be released.  I hope so as I get the feeling Sean Michael is building up to some big event here when all the brothers have found their soulmates.

I don’t really feel these are standalone stories but one that builds upon the others so if you are new to the series start with Branded by Flames and work your way through all the books.  They are quick reads, very entertaining and very, very, hot!

I definitely  recommend them all.

 

Cover art is interesting and works for branding the story.

Sales Link:  Carina Press | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1st edition, 246 pages
Published June 4th 2018 by Carina Press
Original TitleBorn of Air
ASINB07B519L19
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Dragon Soul

An Alisa Review:Alpha Dragon: Taran (Treasured Ink #1) by Kaz Crowley & Kellan Larkin

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

 

Tattooing is Taran’s passion, and opening a shop with his four best friends is a dream come true. But when his fated mate walks right in the door on day one, he realizes life is gonna get crazy.

 

And then a rival tattoo shop opens right across the street. This alpha dragon’s got too much to handle, and if he’s not careful, he’s going to lose his passion, his friends, and his fated omega.

 

All Nosko wanted was a tattoo to remember his grandmother by. He didn’t think he’d meet the man he’d been waiting his whole life for. Is it the right time, though? His art gallery’s sales are dropping, and he needs to focus.

 

Just when he thinks he has it all under control, he gets mugged by someone who has a bone to pick with dragon shifters. How can he raise a family if he doesn’t feel safe in his own home?

 

With a rogue criminal targeting dragons and a flagging business, he needs to get his head on straight. And on top of that, Taran gets him pregnant.

 

What’s a guy to do?

 

This was an interesting story.  I’m not sure how they know who other paranormals are as they can’t seem to really sense them.  I understand this is the beginning of a new series, I think it leaves a lot of questions like; what is Annika and how did they quickly become such good friends, paranormals are hiding from humans but how is Taran hiding his pregnancy.

 

Taran and Nosko did a lot of flip flopping of their emotions near the beginning.  Nosko wasn’t looking for a mate but then in the next scene was always hoping for that loving connection.  Taran seemed all in and then pushed Nosko away and quickly jumps in again and they are suddenly having a baby.  I enjoyed the story and will probably read some more of the series but something was just missing from the building of the characters and story.

 

The cover art is nice and gives some nice visuals.

 

Sales Link: Amazon

 

Book Details:

ebook, 152 pages

Publication: January 16, 2018

Edition Language: English

Series: Treasured Ink #1

An Alisa Review: American Telepath (Dragons Schooled #2) by Emily Carrington

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Rating:  3 stars out of 5

 

american-telepathJames is a water dragon who fell in love with a human. Rather than expose that human to a dangerous magical world, James abandons Henry.

 

Five years later, they meet again—and it’s like they were never separated. Except Henry refuses—beyond the occasional bang—to have anything to do with James.

 

When Henry is punished for upsetting a powerful magical creature, James follows him into imprisonment. Together they struggle, with impromptu sex and in spite of discoveries, to overcome the past.

 

I am not quite sure how to describe this story.  James and Henry dated in high school and James deeply hurt Henry when he left without a word.  James is surprised when he meets Henry again at Searchlight Academy, but they don’t start out again on a good foot.

 

We get to see both characters’ points of view which helps understand both of their struggles and feelings.  This story mainly focuses on how dangerous dragons and other magical creatures are, which seemed a bit strange to me as I didn’t get that feeling about them in the first book in the series.  I had a hard time connecting with James and Henry as they both kept trying to keep secrets or wall themselves off from the other and acting totally opposite of their thoughts, it just didn’t jive for me.  Some of their problems stem from their earlier relationship, but also from how they have been hurt by others however little and unacknowledged it was.  I did like how James finally learns to stand up for himself in order to keep Henry safe.

 

Cover art by Fiona Jayde is nice and shows the safe house and a visual of James.

 

Sales Links: Loose Id | Amazon | B&N

 

Book Details:

ebook, 75 pages

Published: December 21, 2016 by Loose Id

ISBN: 9781682522332

Edition Language: English

Series: Dragons Schooled #2

A Paul B Review: Needing Noel (Moon Pack #14) by Amber Kell

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars                   ★★★★

Needing Noel coverNoel lost his first mate and their daughter to a fire more than ten years ago.  Will he be able to accept his second mate after such a devastating loss?

Noel Thistleborn has spent the last few years as personal assistant to the king of the fae.  He tries to keep busy to help him forget about the fire that killed both his mate and their daughter.  As part of his duties, he must organize the dragon-mating ball that is being put on by King Kylen.  While he would prefer not to attend the ball itself, Kylen has ordered all single fae must show up.  Kylen gives a concession to Noel in that he can make a brief appearance before he may leave for the night.

Hartmut (Hart) has had a crush on the dragon leader for a number of years.  However, Rhaegar has recently met his mates, a fae and a wolf shifter.  Now he wants the same kind of unconditional love that he sees his friend has.  He hopes that the upcoming ball being held by the fae king to help dragons find their mates will produce some positive results.

When Hart arrives at the ball, his dragon smells something wonderful and indicates to Hart that his mate is in the area.   He tracks Noel down and tells him that he believes Noel is his mate.  Noel tells Hart that he has already had a mate and he does not want another one.  When Hart explains that unlike fae, dragons may only get one mate and that he just wants to get to know Noel better, Noel agrees to a dinner date.  However, having been initially turned down by Noel, Hart wonders if it is even worth the bother.

As the party is winding down, Rhaeger informs Noel that while Hart is a dragon, he has a soft heart.  Just as he is ready to leave, Noel is confronted by his former brother-in-law and is told that the fire almost ten years ago was not what it may seem.  Could either his first mate or his daughter still be alive?  How will Noel convince Hart that he does truly want him while finding answers to questions his brother-in-law put forth?

This fourteenth book in the Moon Pack delivers, as have previous books.  I have enjoyed how Ms. Kell has expanded the universe in the series.  This has allowed her flexibility to keep the series continuing to great success.  The one issue I did have with the book was the epilogue.  While it does further the overall Moon Pack storyline of Anthony becoming a full fledge god grandson of Zeus, the three characters in the epilogue appeared no where else in the book except for brief mentions by the main characters in the story.  Those who have not been reading the series might not know what to make of seemingly extra material.

The cover design by Meredith Russell is simply stunning.  The top half of the cover has our two protagonists shirtless standing in some room.  The bottom half shows Hart’s dragon either landing or about to take off with his wings fully extended beside the fae castle.

Sales Links:  All Romance (ARe) | Amazon | Buy It Here

Book Details:

Ebook:  84 pages
Published:  July 17, 2015 by Amber Kell Books
ASIN:  B011YXUIVC
Edition:  English
Series:  Moon Pack

  • Attracting Anthony (Moon Pack #1)
  • Baiting Ben (Moon Pack #2)
  • Courting Calvin (Moon Pack #3)
  • Denying Dare (Moon Pack #4)
  • Enticing Elliott (Moon Pack #5)
  • Finding Ferro (Moon Pack #6)
  • Getting Gabe (Moon Pack #7)
  • Hunting Henry (Moon Pack #8)
  • Inflaming Inno (Moon Pack #9)
  • Judging Jager (Moon Pack #10)
  • Keeping Kylen (Moon Pack #11)
  • Loving Leif (Moon Pack #12)
  • Marking Mikel (Moon Pack #13)
  • Needing Noel (Moon Pack #14)

Review: Of Last Resort (Princes of the Blood #1) by Megan Derr

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Of Last Resort coverRaffe and his family have traveled to Castle Guldbrandsen, the court of King Waldemere, to attend his older brother Tallis’ take The Blooding, a test which if he survives will see him transformed forever into a Prince of the Blood, members of the King’s Legion and warriors of unimaginable strength,  magical powers, and near invincibility.  Now on the day of the test, they have been informed, along with the king and all the members of the court, that Tallis has fled the castle, leaving behind only a note to say farewell.  The humiliation and threat of death he and his family face because of Tallis’ actions is shameful and overwhelming.

Raffe had always envied Tallis for his prospects and physique.  Tallis was the golden boy,tall, handsome, deft with weaponry or a charming word.  And Raffe was he exact opposite, small, dark and nondescript. He was also an accountant, destined for marriage to an affluent merchant who already had three wives.  But before he even realized what he was doing, he heard himself say “take me, your Highness, take me in his place”.  And after some private discussion, King Waldemere did.  For only those families and sons with the correct percentage of demon blood in their veins could be a Prince of the Blood and if nothing else, Raffe had the same blood as did Tallis.

If Raffe survives The Blooding, he will become a Prince of the Blood, who,along with dragoons, shadowmarch, sorcerers, titans , protect the kingdom from the dark forces, the beasts and terrors of an ancient war, that threaten them all.  But Raffe’s test comes at a time when an ancient evil is rising once again, more powerful than any that  has been seen in hundreds of years.   Can a weakling survive the most crucial test of his life to become the warrior his Kingdom needs the most?

Of Last Resort is another magnificent, riveting tale of magic by that master of fantasy, Megan Derr.  Her world building is incomparable as is her ability to set the stage for the magical pyrotechnics and emotional journey that is to follow.  One of the feature I have always loved about Derr’s stories is the balance she creates between the large scale elements and the small intimacies of thought and emotions running through the main characters. Here the transformations, history and various talents of the Blood Princes reside along the fears and insecurities of Raffe who never imagined such a life for himself.

A fantasy story on this level cannot exist without characters of great heart and great evil, no matter how splendid the world building.  And in Raffe, Alrin, Telme’ and all the rest of the memorable cast of this story, Megan Derr gives us heroes to believe in, whether they be demon, human, werewolf, shade or dragon shifter.  Raffe is one that I took to heart from the opening scene as he bravely steps forward to take his brother’s place even as he expects to die during the testing.  Derr makes it clear that he is of little value to his parents other than as a way to broker a tie to richer class and that all, including himself, find him weak and unassuming.  Here he is at the beginning after it is revealed that his brother is gone:

“Take me” Raffe said before his parents could speak, stepping in front of them to drop to his knees before the throne. He placed his fisted hands in front of him, knuckles to the floor, and bowed his head low. “My blood is the same. Take me in his place, your Majesty.”

Silence met his words, and Raffe’ cheeks flushed as he braced himself for the shame of rejection.  He could all but feel his parents’ mortification, hear the amused derision of the assembled court in their tittering, poorly muffled laughs, the disapproval of his fiance’ in his soft sigh. He cringed when the silence stretched on, but said, “I am not my brother, Majesty, I know. We are the same blood, however, and I have not run away.  I will not run away.”  He dared to look up, meet the king’s gaze, hoping he understood what Raffe’ was not saying: that he would die if his Majesty would spare his parents.

Simple and heartrending, we embrace Raffe’ even as he accepts his fate and finds the courage to step forward.  The first part of the story is told from Raffe’ point of view.  From the man he is prior to The Blooding, to the terrifying ceremony to determine if he can survive The Blooding and beyond.  A lifetime of verbal abuse and treatment as the insignificant son has made Raffe’ insecure, unsure of his own abilities and ashamed of his poor physique.  That is a mental state not swift to change no matter what other transformations may follow.  I loved that aspect of this story as well.  It is reflective of a real person’s nature to see the image their mind imagines instead of what is a true representation of themselves reflected back.  We love Raffe’ because we can understand and empathize with him.

Then another character takes over the point of view for a while.  It’s a necessary switch-off, pertinent to the story.  But to go into details here would spoil some of the twists Derr has in store for us.  Let’s just say, you will be surprised by this character again and again throughout the story.  He is both physically magnificent and emotionally torn.  I found myself falling in love with him as much as I did with Raffe’.   Of course, then I found myself loving Telme’ and the rest of the Princes of the Blood as well and as deeply.

The blurb for the story infers a vampiric need for blood for the Princes which is true, but interestingly it is demons of all types that Derr is creating here.  Within this story there resides a gallery of characters and races, each worthy of their own story.  I hope that occurs because the world and beings that Derr has left us with entertain both our minds and hearts, leaving the reader grasping for more of each one and their backstory.

Megan Derr’s prose moves swiftly and fluidly, building the suspense and anticipation even as she engages our hearts and sympathies for the main characters.  There will be heart stopping battles, deaths so painful it will bring tears to your eyes, and untold acts of villainy as to clench your fists.  What a saga!  I can’t wait to see what the next story brings.  Put this on your must have, must read now list!  Trust me when I say you won’t be able to put this down once you have started!

Cover art by Aisha Akeju.  Terrific cover as is the map inside, simple and elegant.

Update:  The sequel to Of Last Resort, With Pride (Princes of the Blood #2) will be released April 16th.  Mark your calendars!

Book Details:

ebook
Expected publication: February 19th 2014 by Less Than Three Press LLC (first published July 24th 2013)
original title Of Last Resort
ISBN13 9781620043141
edition language English
other editions

Review of A Sky Full of Wings (Notice #3) by M. Raiya

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Rating: 5 stars

Varian and Josh are getting married and all their friends are in attendance, Dragons, Knights, and lots of Humans unaware of their magical presence, all have come to see two of their best friends forever bonded.  Varian’s normal nerves of steel are rattled as never before when facing the prospect of a wedding planned by his unpredictable lover, Josh.  And the fact that his brother and best friend won’t look at him while refusing to tell him what Josh has  planned?  Not at good thing at all.  Plus the new age minister that Josh found to marry them is giving off strange vibes to go with the stranger looks he is giving the couple.  Varian’s wedding jitters continue to ramp up, only his love for Josh keeps him safely anchored instead of fleeing in panic.  Now if only he can overcome his natural dragon’s reticence  for speech in time to speak his vows!  What can go wrong next at the marriage of Varian and Josh from the Notice series? Welcome to their wedding where anything that could happen does and a special wedding present to match all wedding presents is delivered to the happy couple.

M. Raiya’s A Sky Full of Wings was my first introduction to this author and the series.  I knew this short story was part of a series I had not read before but ended up loving it even without the first stories to go by.  Raiya fleshed out enough of Varian and Josh’s backstory for me that I did not feel as though I was missing out on too much information.  I loved the characters the author created almost immediately from Dr. Adrian Varian Kendall, a teacher who just happens to be a black dragon and Josh, his human lover who just might be more than he seems but no one appears to  know what that is exactly.  All the elements here are vividly described, from the multilayered characters to a dragon cartwheeling in joy through the sky.

I felt that this story was so well written from the humorous beginning to the end with its unexpected wedding guests and its portents of things to come that A Sky Full of Wings is sending me back to start from the beginning.(note: I have now read and reviewed them. See below)  I don’t feel that it is entirely necessary to read the other books first to love this story as M. Raiya gives the reader all they need here to understand the characters in the wedding party and some of the backstory. This promises to be a great series for me.  I will let you know how it goes. Until then, don’t wait to grab this one up! You won’t be sorry.

Cover:  Cover artist Alessio Brio.  I love the dragon in the background, but to be honest, I have no idea what those things are on either side.  If you know, please clue me in as my curiosity is up!

Other books in the series, starting from the beginning are:

Notice (Notice #1) read my review here.

The Dragon and the Mistletoe (Notice #2) a Christmas short (my review is combined with Notice – see above)

A Sky Full of Wings (Notice #3)

Reviews of Notice (Notice #1) and The Dragon and the Mistletoe (Notice #2) by M. Raiya

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Rating: 4.25 stars

Adrian Varian Kendall has always prided himself on his ability to keep his three lives separate from each other no matter how intense  his life got.  High school teacher, dragonshifter, and gay male, elements of himself kept partitioned due to necessity and security of those around him. Then he receives notice while teaching class, a clear message from a Knight to meet in battle but Varian doesn’t know which student left him the message.  Suddenly the walls between his separate lives collapse, as the Notice poses a threat not only to the dragon families Varian protects but to his human lover, Josh, as well.

Thousands of years ago as the Knights threatened all Dragonkind with extinction, Dragons hid by taking human form and vanishing into the human populations around them.  Now this one Notice threatens to bring all dragons out of hiding, expose them to the human world, leaving them vulnerable to attacks from groups of Knights determined to kill them once and forever. Varian’s lover, Josh, has no idea that he is living with a dragon and the stress of hiding his true nature from Josh is straining that relationship to the point of breaking.  Every part of his life is now under attack and Varian will do anything necessary to bring about a peace, even if he make sacrifice himself.

I have always loved dragons so a story about dragonshifters hits quite a few of my buttons. M. Raiya does a wonderful job of meshing dragon lore with contemporary reality to give us a really neat twist on the old Dragon and Knights  story.  Here the conflict between Knights and Dragons has carried through the ages even as both groups have undergone changes to adapt to the modern world.  In the past the Knights greatly outnumbered  the dragons and almost brought about their extinction, killing vast numbers.  To save their species, some dragons disappared,  and some took humans as thralls to help them exist only to disappear themselves too.  The rest took human form and quietly melded into human communities, dragon traditions and teachings fading as the centuries passed. Raiya gives us a wonderful backstory without taking away from the action adventure story being told.

I loved the characterizations as well especially Varian and Josh.  Varian is a complex character in love with a human whose background and personality exceeds his own in intensity and dimension.  Varian loves teaching and has a protective nurturing nature which is at odds at the fighter/killer the Knights force him to be.  He has kept his true form and identity from Josh and that has stifled his relationship.  He is still young and makes mistakes that comes from lack of experience in relationships and maturity. Josh is flamboyantly gay, from his makeup and glittery clothes to the sexual art forms he creates.  Josh is almost defiantly feminine which stems from an abusive background and parents determined to beat him straight.  I loved Josh who asks to be accepted for who he is even if he is not sure what exactly that is himself, just a great character  who provides both heart-wrenching angst and surprising abilities. Huntington is another person full of endearing qualities that just enlists the readers sympathy even when you aren’t sure he is deserving of it.  Only one character disappointed me  and that was due to not fully basing him in the plot as strongly as he should have been considering the impact his betrayal has on everyone later on.  His motive was never clear nor his backstory told so that his actions never made that much sense to me. I don’t want to be more specific so as to not give away spoilers for the plot.  But that was a hole I felt remained for the rest of the story.

I also had a few quibbles with some editing errors in the story, including a homonym that stopped me cold. Here Josh says “plaintively. “Can I be a terrible boar” instead of “bore”, something an editor should have caught. But overall, M. Raiya gives a fantasy story of dragons, Knights, and the enduring power of family and love.

The Dragon and the Mistletoe (Notice #2) by M. Raiya

Rating: 4.25 stars

This is a Holiday Sip from Torquere Press featuring Varian and Josh from Notice.  It is their first Christmas together and Varian realizes the importance of choosing just the right gift for Josh, one that will show Josh how much Varian loves and treasures their relationship.  Varian has grown tremendously since Notice and M. Raiya let’s us in on Varian’s thoughts on their time together and the current status they have worked so hard to achieve since the events in Notice.  It is a heartwarming tale, perfect for anytime of the year and an enjoyable visit with a couple I came to love in the first book.

The first cover is by Alessio Brio.  I had a problem seeing the black dragons flying on the cover due to all the darkness (or maybe just my poor eyesight).  I just wish there had been a little more contrast so the dragons would be easier to pick out.

Contest Winner, The Week Ahead and It’s Sidecar Time!

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What a great time we had during Series Week.  Great comments and new authors/series for me to investigate and read.  Winner of Primal Red is yganoe! Congratulations and thanks to everyone who commented.  Two cover artists I forgot to mention were Catt Ford and April Martinez! Love their covers too! Next contest up will be JL Langley week in October to celebrate the release of My Regelence Rake with a series recap, a author spotlight and a book contest for that novel. Plus I will be participating in the Halloween Blog Hop so stay tuned.

Meanwhile Maryland’s rollercoaster weather ride continues.  We hit another record yesterday.  The coldest July day temp ever recorded.  We had a high of 71 degrees F yesterday.  This on top of 6 more records, mostly for heat.  Hottest 100 degree days in a row, hottest day, hottest night…and then the coldest day?  All in the same month?  Climate change, people!  It’s real!

So anyhow, back to the week ahead.  I have been reading some really great books of late, and my review of one of them, Ariel Tachna’s Fallout will be posted on Tuesday. You don’t want to miss this book. So lets get to all the books being reviewed this week:

Monday:                             Country Mouse by Amy Lane and Aleksandr Voinov

Tuesday:                             Fallout by Ariel Tachna

Wednesday:                       Notice Series by M. F. Raiya

Thursday:                           Pricks and Pragmatism by J. L. Merrow

Friday:                                 Reaping Shadows by Jamieson Wolf

Saturday:                             Frat Boy and Toppy by Anne Tenino

Now for the summer cocktail of the week.  Nope, still not cooking, more summer cocktails to come:

Sidecar (light, tasty, and packs a punch):


 

 

 

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons superfine sugar
1 lemon wedge
3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) Cognac
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) Cointreau or other Triple Sec orange liqueur
1 tablespoon (1/2 ounce) fresh lemon juice
1 cup ice

Directions:

Spread superfine sugar on small plate. Rub lemon wedge halfway around rim of chilled martini or coupe glass. Dip moistened side of glass in sugar to lightly coat outside rim of glass. Set aside.
In cocktail shaker, combine Cognac, Cointreau, and lemon juice. Add ice and shake vigorously until well chilled, about 30 seconds. Strain into prepared martini or coupe glass and serve.